On a recent holiday to the country side, I found myself in quite a remote part of the country, with shops quite some distance away. So, you know how the typical story goes… You get back to camp after a long hike, hot and tired, and you just need a nice sugary ice-cold cola to restore your energy, only to find you’ve run out of ice (doh!) and the cola is at room temperature. Then after downing about half the cola in desperation, you think to yourself, man if only I had remembered to buy more ice.
Well with a portable ice maker, you’re covered, no more worrying about running out of ice, or about buying some. If you’ve read my other article about portable fridge freezers here, you may think, OK well I could just put my portable fridge into freezer mode and use that. Sure you can, but then what if you wanted to have a portable fridge and a portable freezer?
Enter the portable ice maker, a compact, low cost, nifty little invention that will churn out more than enough ice for your needs, as well as for other folks in your holiday group.
Now you can have a portable fridge AND a portable ice maker, and together, they take up very little space. Below I will talk about the two best portable ice makers, both have excellent reviews on Amazon and offer a great mix of features to meet your needs. I am mentioning two, because one of them will be at the higher end of your budget, but may offer more features that will make it worth paying the extra dollars for.
Before we go into it, there are really three main considerations when it comes to buying a portable ice maker:
- Capacity – how much ice it can hold
- Speed – at what rate it can create ice blocks
- Cleaning – how easy it is to clean and maintain
Without further ado, let’s look at the two best portable ice makers.
hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine for Countertop
hOmeLabs (yup it’s spelt that way), make a beautiful portable ice maker machine which makes about 26 lbs of ice per 24 hours. The first bullet shaped ice cubes can be ready in as little as 8 minutes, so even if you forgot to switch it on before going on your hike, you could switch it on upon your return and have an ice in just a few minutes, no need to drink that soda at room temperature.
It comes with an ice scoop for convenience and something I really like about this model is that you can choose the size of the ice block, small or medium sized, both are bullet shaped. The bullet shaped ice cubes are excellent for water bottles that have narrow openings, so you could add the ice cubes to your hiking water bottles, and so on, to keep the contents cool for long walks.
You will love how this portable ice maker saves on water. A small water reservoir is situated below the ice making area so any ice that may have melted from leaving the fridge door open, will collect in the reservoir, which will then be added to the main water supply to create more ice.
The hOmeLabs portable ice maker is relatively quiet during operation, but some noise is expected due to ice movement. It comes with an auto shut-off feature which is excellent and can really help reduce the noise and power usage from this machine.
Cleaning this portable ice maker is super easy. Simply unplug it, empty it, and wipe it down with a soft towel. Then use dishwasher detergent to give it a wash, rinse and let it drip dry. It only needs to be cleaned every few weeks to keep it smelling nice and fresh.
For me the only downside is that it doesn’t have a 12V DC connector, you can only plug it into 110 – 240V AC power, which I think is OK if you have a portable power unity or electricity at the camp site etc. But it would have been nice to be able to plug it into the car’s 12V charging connector. All in all, I love this portable ice maker and I am sure you will too. You can check it out here on Amazon to see its current price.
Sentern Portable Electric Clear Ice Maker Machine Stainless Steel Countertop Ice Making Machine
If you have a slightly higher budget, then Sentern portable ice maker would be my recommendation as it has many more features, including larger capacity, than the hOmeLabs model.
Let’s look first at the capacity. This portable ice maker can create almost double the amount of ice cubes that the hOmeLabs model! It creates an astonishing 48 lbs of ice cubes per day and can hold 2.4 lbs in its ice rack. It can create ice cubes in as little as 15 minutes after being switched on, which is almost twice as long the hOmeLabs portable ice maker, however remember it holds much larger capacity so you reap rewards in the long run.
It creates actual block shaped ice rather than the bullet shaped ice that the hOmeLabs model does. It’s not so ideal for water bottles with narrow openings but is fine for everything else. Some folks on Amazon say that the ice takes much longer to melt compared to the bullet shaped ones, and Sentern mention this is because the ice is much harder and more resilient to melting, which can be a plus point.
The Sentern portable ice maker also has an auto shut-off mode when full which is very useful to save power and electricity. It also reuses any ice that melts to make more ice, and because the ice doesn’t melt as quickly as bullet shaped ice, it can store for much longer and so the ice maker doesn’t have to work as hard to make more.
Another benefit at the higher price point is that the Sentern comes with a digital control panel which makes controlling the machine easy, and it also has a timer function which can come in handy. It can be set to create small, medium or large ice cubes. This machine is also relatively easy to clean.
One complaint some folks on Amazon have is that sometimes the ice cubes form larger blocks of ice when they come out, so you may need to occasionally break them into smaller pieces yourself.
Although the Sentern portable ice maker is a bit slower, it can produce much higher quantities of ice throughout the day and can store a larger amount of made ice. For the few extra dollars, the benefits are worth the cost. Current pricing for the Sentern can be found here on Amazon.
I think both of the above portable ice makers would make great additions for your next road trip. Just bear in mind that they both require normal AC power to work. Many folks just use them at home and they can easily create lots of ice for parties and family gatherings. A tip would be to keep removing the ice from the tray once it’s full, and then store the ice in another freezer at home for larger parties, that way the ice maker can keep producing more ice. Remember that if it detects the ice tray is full, it will switch off until more space is available.
No matter how you intend to use your portable ice maker, it can save you a lot of money if you tend to buy ice from the shop on a regular basis for larger families or parties, and can let you always enjoy ice cubes in your favourite drink, even if you are up in the mountains on your next big holiday adventure.